Manager Mikel Arteta's side travelled to St. James' Park last night (May 16) for their penultimate Premier League game of the season, desperately needing a win. However, they folded and never really got themselves into the game as Newcastle picked up a deserved 2-0 win.
Xhaka was one of Arsenal's better players in the match. He recorded a key pass, completed 85% of his passes and all four of his long-ball attempts, in addition to making three clearances and a tackle. The Swiss international was understandably frustrated after the match and took aim at his teammates. Xhaka told Sky Sports (as quoted by Metro):
‘‘It’s very hard to take it at the moment. I don’t know why we’re not doing what the coach is asking of us. If someone is not ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter their age, they can be 30, they can be 35, they can be 18, if you’re not ready for that, if you’re nervous, stay on the bench, stay at home, don’t come here.’’
‘‘We need people who have the balls, sorry to say that, to come here and play, this game is one of the most important games for us.’’
Neville, who was on punditry duty for Sky Sports, didn't sound too pleased with Xhaka's words and said (as quoted by Metro):
‘‘I don’t know what to make of that interview. I think I heard him say, ‘stay at home if you haven’t got the balls’. I think that’s what he said. Obviously he’s having a right dig at people within his dressing room.’’
The former Manchester United right-back added:
‘‘I don’t know who he’s having a go at there. I hope he wasn’t having a go at those young players. Him? I tell you what, he’s been a disgrace at times over the last four or five years getting sent off recklessly. He’s left it up in the air there. It was nothing, that.’’
Can Arsenal still make the top four?
Defeat against Newcastle means Arsenal remain fifth in the Premier League with 66 points from 37 games. They are still two behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth with just one game to go.
The Gunners can mathematically still seal a top-four finish but need to beat Everton on the final day and hope Spurs lose to already-relegated Norwich City.
In the less likely event that Tottenham draw their game, Arsenal will need to defeat the Toffees by a mammoth 16 goals to move to fourth on goal difference.
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